Wednesday, October 15, 2008

things NOT to say to a fire survivor

These remarks have actually been made to fire survivors from Concow. 
They vary, of course, in their degree of egregiousness, but all should be avoided if you want to keep your compassion quota high.

*I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but often the house you build after one is destroyed is better.
 (what could be "better" than the simple little cabin you built with your own hands where you birthed your baby 31 years ago; that had cool old windows dragged out of a dumpster in San Francisco 35 years ago, a big cedar deck that your friend designed and made and where you delighted to sleep..summer or winter, a tile counter you designed and made yourself in the kitchen, an old clawfoot bath tub on the back porch with water you piped half a mile down the mountain side, heated by an on-demand water heater? where nearly everything was gathered second-hand and had the personality and sometimes the personal memories to go with it; except of course, for the poles you felled and stripped yourself and the sugar pine shakes you split yourself and laid up just so? where every plank and every stone had a story and that story was of your youth and your maturing?)

*Oh, well, it's all in here (cue gesture of hand to heart)
 (this said to a woman who had lost all her photos of herself and her 2 daughters growing up along with everything else)

*At least the fire cleaned out all those pot farmers.
(this said to a retired woman of 65 who had lost her only home of 35 years)

*It's time to move on
 (Who says?) (also:DUH?) (not to mention: has this person not heard of how important grieving what is lost is to doing just that?) 

*Fire is cleansing

*It will all come back.
 (this referring to the forest) 
Obviously this person did not study succession, nor do they even know how long it takes conifers to reach 100 feet and more in height. Of course, nature springs eternal, but no one reading this will ever see Concow as it was before 6 July, 2008..none of us will live that long.